Investingating Old Wives Tales

Old Wives’ Tale or Helpful Hint? 

People often tell us things and ask us to believe they're true. Some of these "Helpful Hints" are true. Some aren't. People have realized for a long time that some of these hints aren't true and call them "Old Wives' Tales."  An Old Wives' Tale is an everyday statement that some people believe is true, but it really isn't. But how can you tell them apart? You can't just ask a grownup, some of them are wrong. The only way anyone knows the truth for sure is to use the Scientific Method.

Each group will choose a hint/old wives' tale to test using the scientific method. Make sure you choose an old wives' tale or hint, not a superstition. A superstition involves luck, magic or the supernatural, a hint or old wives' tale does not. Each group will work together as a class to find out if this hint is true or false. Each group is responsible for preparing an individual written lab report. Your grade on this assignment will be based on your participation during the project in and out of class and your written and oral lab reports.


Homework to prepare for Day 1:

Explain to at least two adults the difference between a helpful hint, a superstition and an old wives’ tale. Ask the adults to help you come up with as many examples as you can. You must write down and bring in at least 5 examples tomorrow.


Day 1 - Determine your PURPOSE and RESEARCH:

Each student should bring in at least five old wives' tales or helpful hints to class. We'll list all the old wives' tales on the board. Your group should choose the one you plan to test on your project sheet. It must be a question that you can test quickly and SAFELY. Your teacher must check your PURPOSE before you continue.

Research your question using the internet. Summarize what you learned on your group's project sheet.  Cite every source you use for information on your data sheet.



Use what you've learned to write a testable hypothesis Design an experiment to test your hypothesis. Write the procedure you plan to use as well as a materials list. Make sure you control for any variables. Do not begin your test until your teacher has approved your research, hypothesis, materials and procedure and signed your project sheet.  Gather the necessary materials from the lab or bring them from home.  Inform your teacher if there is anything not in the lab or at home.



Perform your experiment following the procedure outlined on your project sheet. Record your data and observations as you proceed.



Use Excel to analyze your data. Create appropriate charts or graphs to help you look for trends and evidence proving or disproving your hypothesis.  Copy your tables and graphs into a word document.  As a group you must decide whether your hypothesis was proven true or false, or if your tests were inconclusive. Write a 1-2 sentence statement of your conclusion under your tables and graphs. Each individual should write his/her own discussion (1-2 paragraphs) Finally, finish the lab report and turn it in. Prepare to present your findings to the class.


Old Wives’ Tale Project


Group Members _______________________________________________________________­_




      Teachers Initials: _________


Research Summary:




Materials List:




Teachers Initials: __________